“So we had to…” w/ Jim McKelvey

August 3, 2022
Today's guest is a NYT Bestselling Author, the Co-Founder of Square, the Chairman of the St Louis Federal Reserve, and a Professional Glass Blower. That’s not all either. Jim McKelvey is one of the most purebred entrepreneurs we’ve ever met, and he’s here to help us tell ourselves the truth about innovation, entrepreneurship, and how to stack your laptop on laundry baskets for a zoom call.
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What we discuss with Jim McKelvey:

00:25 - Paul recounts how he was introduced to Jim’s book, “The Innovation Stack,” and how it completely changed his perspective on entrepreneurship. Jim offers a realistic and hope filled look at entrepreneurship by creating a space where it’s normal to fail often and learn from one’s mistakes — a stark contrast to the beaming “checklist” culture that has been perpetuated online.

04:31 - Jim immediately disarms any nerves Paul, Kyle, and Michael might’ve had prior to the interview by joining from a remote cabin in Wisconsin. “Total disclosure, this is the bedroom ‘cuz it’s the quietest room in the house and I’ve got my laptop stacked on laundry baskets.”

05:28 - Jim offers his thoughts about everything that’s happening inside the retail automobile industry from his vantage point as an “outsider.”

“It’s really interesting. You’ve got some direct sales models that are breaking up dealerships, cars are lasting longer, so service is becoming a greater profit component than sales. The used car market is crazy. One of my friends runs Enterprise, so I get to hear about buying cars by the tens of thousands, and it’s nuts!”

08:40 - In addition to being the founder of Square, Jim is also involved deeply in the economist side of small businesses and the role they play in the economy. As the Chair of the St. Louis Federal Reserve, Jim has a unique vantage point into economic drivers and what possible impacts there may be across several industries, including automotive. He explains that automotive is a great leading indicator for the rest of the economy, albeit skewed by the last two years of the pandemic.

“Does the chip shortage sort of mess up that indicator? If we could get the car, we’d buy the car, but we can’t get the car so we’re going to satisfy ourselves with something else.”

11:54 - Is it even possible to create a predictable business formula when the last two years have provided a skewed outlook on the market?

“It's driving predictable business people. Crazy. Like if you're used to following a formula and that formula's been working for 25 years, the last thing you want is what we've just lived through. And we're what we're gonna go live through. Like, it's, it's just so much change. And what I talk about a lot in the book is that there's this mindset of the entrepreneur and it's not something that's pleasant.”

Listen to the full episode for more insights and context from our conversation with Jim McKelvey!

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